Here at Thrifty Hiker, we want more people to get out and experience the joys of hiking and camping in the wild. That’s why today we’ve put together an entire ultralight outdoor gear list aimed at first timers! You’ll find this list quite cheap (at least by ultralight standards) to assemble, and more than adequate for most 3-season trips.
Where possible, we’ve also given some alternates that you can swap in and out. Our alternates are selected from more established western camping brands, in case you don’t want to take the “Ali Express plunge” yet. The alternate gear will be comparable and in some cases better, but there is obviously a price tradeoff to be made for that.
We’re only going to be focusing on basic essential camping gear in this list – we think it’s worth covering clothes in a separate article. You’ll also find the weights and cost for this kit lis at the end. So, let’s dive in and take a look:
Backpack: 3F UL Gear Backpack (alternate: Osprey Talon 44)
This backpack from 3F UL Gear has been going strong for a few years now. It’s built for the weight-conscious hiker, coming in at just under a kilo. To achieve that weight, the biggest sacrifice is foregoing any kind of frame in the pack. However, using a partially inflated sleeping mat in the back of the bag can serve just as well as an internal frame. An added benefit of this approach is saving some weight – since you’re likely taking a sleeping mat anyway.
In any case, both ourselves and other hikers have generally found this bag to be a solid, reliable option. Plus, it’s crazy cheap and actually a very good quality build.
As our alternate, we’ve included the Osprey Talon 44 bag. Osprey are one of the leading names in making durable, quality bags. However, it comes with an obvious increase in price. Some might find the Talon a little tight for space at only 44l of storage, but in our experience, it’s more than enough room if you pack well and travel light.
Tent: 3F UL Gear Solo (alternate: MSR Elixir 1)
We’ve been using the 3F UL Gear Solo for a while now, and in short, we’re impressed. This tent gives outstanding performance for the price, and is a reliable option even when the weather turns against you (as we found in our review!)
One slight drawback of the Solo is the need to have a trekking pole in order to pitch it. Well, that or take your chances with finding a stick that’s about the right size and shape. Although there are very affordable pole options out there, we know this tent design isn’t for everybody.
That’s why we’ve included the MSR Elixir 1 as our alternate. The Elixir is freestanding, although it does weigh (and cost) a little more than the Solo, even accounting for a pole. We’ve used the Elixir before and it’s a solid performer, worthy of inclusion on anyone’s outdoor gear list.
Sleeping Mat: Naturehike Inflatable Mat (alternate: Thermarest Neo Air)
If you’re after a slightly more luxurious night’s sleep, many people hail the Thermarest Neo Air as the gold standard for camping mats. Although the Naturehike mat comes with an integrated pillow, the Thermarest doesn’t – so if you need a separate pillow, we’d recommend the Sea to Summit Aeros.
Sleeping Bag: Aegismax Wind Hard (alternate: Thermarest Space Cowboy)
The Aegismax Wind Hard is one of the cheapest down quilts we’ve seen, and has a glowing reputation. Quilts are generally lighter than sleeping bags, as they focus their insulation in the places that matter most – on top of you rather than underneath you. When you add down into the mix, you’re packing in some serious insulating power for a very minimal weight penalty.
For a weight of only 440g, the Wind Hard has a comfort rating of 7 celsius – more than enough for any 3-season adventure. It’s one of the most expensive items on our list, but – in our view – it’s a bargain and worth every penny.
If you prefer synthetic bags to down, we’ve included the Thermarest Space Cowboy as our alternate. The Space Cowboy has basically the same temperature rating as the Wind
Cooking Setup: Tomshoo Stove And Pot (alternate: Trangia)
This Tomshoo Titanium Stove, coupled with a Wind Shield and Titanium Pot, makes an ideal cheap ultralight cooking setup. Weighing in at just 384 grams for the set, this is really all you’d need for some basic dry food cooking and water boiling. Well, that and a Spork. And some fuel 🙂
If you want to do some more advanced camp cooking and need something bigger, we’ve included the trusty Trangia Stove Set as our alternate. There are few pieces of kit that have stood the test of time as well as the Trangia!
There are a few things you’ll need on the trail that
We’d also strongly recommend dry bags, which serve a few different purposes: first, the obvious one is keeping your stuff dry. But if you have a
Lastly, we’d recommend taking a decent head torch with you, which you can usually find in most camping shops for peanuts.
Weight And Cost
So, what’s the weigh-in for all of this gear? Before we get to that, it’s worth us pointing out that there’s a little bit of margin for error in this calculation. For example, depending on which pole you use to support your 3F UL Gear Solo, it could give or take a few hundred grams off your weight. Ditto choosing to take 4 dry bags with you on your trip instead of 2.
Going strictly by what’s on the list, and adding a very generous 1kg / 2lb 3oz.
In terms of cost, again this is a tricky one and would vary based on how much you spend on dry bags, a head torch etc. But if we add in a very generous £100 / $130 margin of error, then at the time of writing, the primary kit list would set you back approximately £400 / $510. That might sound like a lot in general terms, but in terms of an ultralight kit list, it’s incredibly cheap. There are plenty of ultralight hikers out there who would spend that kind of money on a single piece of gear!
Well, That’s All Folks!
We hope you enjoyed this rundown of our simple ultralight outdoor gear list. What do you think of our choices? Let us know in the comments!
* Disclaimer: Affiliate links are used in this review, and it should be assumed that we have not personally tested any of the gear featured.